Australia’s back country is a key part of its culture and identity. On this full day tour, you’ll explore far beyond where the highway takes you, see some of North Queensland’s most rugged landscapes, and enjoy Australian hospitality in the historic community of Cooktown.
Head north from Port Douglas and follow the Captain Cook Highway as it twists and turns along the coast. With the Coral Sea on one side and lush rainforest on the other, it’s one of Australia’s most scenic drives. Cross the Daintree River by cable ferry and then plunge deeper into the jungle. It’s well known for its ancient natural history and diverse plant and animal residents, and your tour guide will be able to point out some of its most interesting features as you travel.
Once you hit the end of the regular roads, you’ll move on to the 4WD-only Bloomfield Track and travel into one of the most remote areas in North Queensland. This is true outback driving: you’ll scramble over mountain ranges, ford rivers, and kick up dust on dirt tracks as you explore this rugged landscape. Stop in for lunch at the Lions Den Hotel, a timber and iron bush pub that has stood here since 1875.
After lunch, move on to Black Mountain. This unusual geological landscape is made up of vast granite boulders that form a natural labyrinth of passages. The area has been important to local Aboriginal people since long before European settlers arrived, and the unique landscape has inspired all kinds of myths and legends.
Next, you’ll complete your trek across the outback to Cooktown. Begin at Grassy Hill, where you’ll be able to enjoy uninterrupted panoramic views of Cooktown and the surrounding country, then head into town with some free time to explore. Cooktown is named after the British explorer Captain James Cook, who landed here in 1770, and you can still find plenty of that history today. The James Cook Museum, set in a restored 19th century convent school and open seasonally, is full of exhibits about Captain Cook and the wider history of the region. The town is also home to other museums and art galleries.
Finally, climb back aboard the 4WD and take a scenic route back along the Mulligan Highway. This is classic outback Australia, dotted with cattle stations and filled with the history of this region’s late 19th century gold rush. You’ll stop off at the Byerstown Range Lookout, where you can see out for miles over the wilderness, then make the drive back to Port Douglas.
Times, Locations, and Prices
This tour runs on four days a week: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. A pickup and drop-off service is available from Port Douglas, with your transport arriving at around 8am. Pickup can also be arranged from Cairns and Northern Beaches with an earlier departure time. Note that while the tour runs all year round, the Bloomfield Track may sometimes be closed by bad weather, especially during the rainy season. When this happens, the tour will follow an alternative route.
Adults aged 15 or over may join the tour for $295 per head. Children of ages 4 to 14 travel for $230 each. This price includes lunch, but does not include dinner or the cost of your activities during your free time in Cooktown.